*Serious Face Review*

You know that high school classmate you wouldn’t be caught dead associating with? Given the right cocktail of bad choices, dangerous circumstances and shared terror, they just might become the person you’re clinging to for dear life. “Rebel, Bully, Geek, Pariah” takes four incredibly disparate personalities and tosses them into a brutal blender of events that forces them to do exactly that.

The rebel – Andi used to be the queen bee of the social scene, until the perfect blonde Barbie did an unexpected 180 toward dreadlocks, tattoos and questionable ethics. Nobody knows what exactly went down, but everyone knows she’s trouble.

The bully – York is a former top jock who now makes a name for himself making everyone around him miserable. Younger brother Boston bears the brunt of his cruel jokes and wayward strength.

The geek – Boston is ready to get out of high school and find a new home at a top-tier college. His star-studded plan for success starts right after graduation, which will be sooner than expected thanks to his grades.

The pariah – Sam has made it her mission to go through life attracting as little attention as possible. A druggie mom doesn’t exactly make for good conversation material.

The day was supposed to be a good one for Sam. It was her mother’s fourth anniversary of staying clean, and Sam had finally saved up enough to buy back her mom’s pawned violin. She runs into Andi at the seedy pawnshop, who steals the violin when Sam discovers the owner has doubled the price. Her pursuit takes them to a party chock full of underage drinking, where they encounter Boston withholding keys from York, who has definitely been imbibing.

When the cops arrive to bust up the party, things begin to spiral out of control. Boston threw the keys in the river, so they “borrow” a vehicle with the keys in the ignition. It might be an undercover cop car. The police might have been shooting at them. York might have accidentally hit and killed a cop during their frantic getaway.

And that’s just the beginning. The action never lets up, and each development raises the stakes and makes it increasingly unlikely that they will all escape unscathed. They stay together different reasons – a violin, a clean record, a brother to protect – but the overarching reason soon becomes simply surviving the night.

“Rebel, Bully, Geek, Pariah” perfectly articulates the out-of-control whirlwind that threatens to overwhelm its characters. These aren’t the teenage champions of the movies; they’re in way over their heads and they know it. Constant arguing and general dislike rule the day, and an objective observer will note that they all too realistically make terrible decisions at every turn.

Author Erin Lange includes a diverse roundup of personality quirks and flaws that ensures there is no shining hero or true villain among the unlikely quartet. They slowly learn that none of them has it all together, despite what outward appearances might indicate. Grief, regret, insecurity, OCD, sexuality and a whole slew of parental issues inform their tense and untrusting interactions as the layers are peeled back.

Readers will quickly be pulled into this wild ride of a story. It’s easy to race through as you uncover the truth piece by piece alongside Andi, York, Boston and Sam in a mad dash to the finish. Seen from a distance, their circumstances seem comically ludicrous, but reading this book imparts a gritty realism that shows how easily one bad choice can lead to another in a slippery slope deeper into trouble. Despite their collective dysfunctions, each member of the foursome has something worth rooting for that makes this a worthwhile read. No matter what label you claim, readers will be able to identify with some part of the Rebel, the Bully, the Geek or the Pariah.

Author: Erin Jade Lange